FBI El Paso Participates in National Messaging Campaign to Educate Citizens About Election Security and Foreign Malign Influence in Advance of the November Election
Everyone Has a Role to Play to Combat Foreign Influence and Protect Our Election.
With less than 60 days to go until Election Day 2020 this November 3rd, every American has a role to play in protecting the election from threats against the democratic process. Nationwide, the FBI has initiated public awareness messaging about election security at fbi.gov and across our social media platforms.
The goal of this social media campaign is to increase public awareness about threats to the upcoming election and to inform Americans how they can help the FBI ensure election security. These threats include crimes the FBI has been charged with investigating for decades, including campaign finance crimes; voter/ballot fraud; civil rights violations, unique cyber threats targeting the election process; and the potential for foreign influence on the democratic process, elected officials, and institutions.
“We all have a role to play to protect the sanctity of our elections,” said Special Agent in Charge Luis Quesada. “We are providing information and guidance to the public so everyone can make their own informed decisions about what they view, read, and share on social media. It may seem trivial but making sure you only share confirmed information on social media would go a long way towards protecting our democracy. We all have a shared mission to protect the American democratic system from foreign adversaries.”
The Foreign Influence Threat
Foreign adversaries, including Russia and China, and foreign-aligned groups try to illegally influence American political processes. Malign foreign influence operations are designed to undermine confidence in our democratic institutions. Three common foreign influence methods are:
- Cyber attacks against political campaigns and government infrastructure: These attacks might include foreign adversaries hacking and leaking sensitive information from computers, databases, networks, phones, and emails.
- Secret funding or influence operations to help or harm a person or cause: Tactics include political advertising from foreign groups pretending to be U.S. citizens, lobbying by unregistered foreign agents, and illegal campaign contributions from foreign adversaries.
- Disinformation campaigns on social media platforms that confuse, trick, or upset the public: For example, a foreign group may purposefully spread false or inconsistent information about an existing social issue to provoke all sides and encourage conflict.
What the Public Can Do
- Ask simple questions: Ask yourself, “Who are you talking to online?” and “Where did the information you are reading come from?” Maintain a general awareness that foreign adversaries seek to deepen divisions in the United States. They may be counting on you to forward information you don’t know to be accurate.
- Ask where information originated: Know the origin of information, including the ideology and motivation of the source, and seek out multiple sources to make informed judgements. Be aware of your own assumptions and biases, and how a foreign adversary may choose to manipulate them.
- Be aware of social media deception: Social media provides our adversaries with a way to easily and anonymously connect with them, so users should know their contacts and followers before forming a relationship with them virtually.
- Check your polling information: Before election day, ensure the information you receive about your ballot, polling location, or other general information are sourced to official government websites.
- Beware of “deep fakes”: Emerging technology used to generate “deep fakes”—advanced synthetic audio and video generated through artificial intelligence—may mimic authentic communications in a manner that is hard to detect and to counter. “Deep fakes” may be able to elicit a range of responses, which can compromise election security. The FBI has been working with the private sector to get ahead of this issue.
- Report suspicious activity to social media platforms: Many social media platforms provide users a means to report suspicious behavior/content. Check the respective site for reporting procedures.
- Report suspicious activity to the FBI: The public can report suspicious activity to the FBI El Paso Field Office at 915-832-5000 or via email to tips.fbi.gov.
How the FBI is Combating Foreign Influence
In the fall of 2017, FBI Director Christopher Wray established the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) to identify and counteract malign foreign influence operations targeting the United States. The FBI, through the FITF, is the federal lead for identifying and combating foreign influence operations targeting our democratic institutions and values inside the United States.
The FBI is working closely with partners at every level to better understand the threat, to share intelligence, and—ultimately—to detect, disrupt, and deter our adversaries. The FBI works closely with interagency partners, as well as state and local partners, to ensure we are sharing information as it becomes available. This can include threat information, actionable leads, or indicators.
The FITF considers strategic engagement with U.S. technology companies, including threat indicator sharing, to be critically important in combating foreign influence actors. We cannot let our guard down when it comes to protecting our elections and we certainly will do everything possible to prevent any foreign power from engaging in malign foreign influence.
The FITF is committed to providing accessible tools and resources to all levels of government through both in-person briefs and online tools, such as our Protected Voices campaign, found at www.fbi.gov/protectedvoices. Protected Voices is a public facing initiative, which provides political campaigns, organizations, and other election security stakeholders with tools and resources to protect against malign foreign influence and cyber security threats.
The FBI has election crime coordinators in each local field office to assess and address potential threats to the primaries and general election and ensure your constitutional rights are protected.
In El Paso, election security information and educational resources about how to protect your voice can be found by following the FBI at @FBIElPaso.